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  • AyresHealth

Football Feet

During a 90-minute game of football, intense periods of play include sprinting, quick changes of direction, sudden stops, ball kicking and tackles. Football boots are often narrow and tight fitting. This puts legs, feet, and ankles through high levels of force and pressure.

When we think of sports medicine we may think of a physiotherapist, but podiatrists are often essential members of a football club’s medical support framework. To support a football team, a podiatrist will employ a range of skills, from general foot care and health advice to maintain skin and joints, to more complex injury treatment and rehab.

Skin problems such as blisters may seem trivial but could cause problems which are easily prevented, and hard skin can build up and cause problems due to friction pressures. Nail procedures range from simple nail cutting to nail surgery for ingrown toenails.

A podiatrist may assess the biomechanics of team players to identify risk factors and underlying causes of recurrent injuries. Exercise rehabilitation and orthotics can treat and prevent foot and ankle injuries. Some podiatrists use ultrasound scanning, administer medications or steroid injections, and perform manual treatments such as joint mobilisation and soft tissue therapy.

Common football injuries

Ankle injuries

Ankle injuries are one of the most common football injuries a podiatrist would see. Players are required to pivot, side-step and tackle whilst running at high intensity. The ankle is a strong, flexible joint capable of absorbing significant loads. However, poor footwear, altered biomechanics or weak ligaments combined with trauma from a fall or jump may overload the joint causing sprains, strains or fractures.

Plantar fasciitis

This condition affects the fascia which is a ligament running across the sole of the foot between the toes and heels. Football places this fascia under lots of strain which can lead to injury causing pain to the heel or arch of the foot.

Shin splints

Overuse of the muscles between the Tibia (shin bone) and foot is common in players with high running workloads. Muscle pain and inflammation can range from mild discomfort to a severe burning sensation.

All the above injuries can be treated and rehabilitated by a podiatrist specialising in musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. Treatments range from exercises to strengthen muscles, to gait retraining, footwear adaptations, orthotics, and manual therapy.

Selecting the best football boot

Here are a few of the features to consider when selecting the most important piece of equipment a footballer will buy!

  • The UPPER – may be leather or synthetic materials. Synthetic is lighter and more hardwearing whilst leather conforms to the foot better, giving a better feel for the ball.

  • The MIDSOLE – the cushioned section between the upper and the hard outer layer. In some boots it’s almost non-existent. The midsole provides long term cushioning and slight heel elevation which is important for anyone with Achilles issues.

  • The INNERSOLE – provides additional cushioning and should be removeable to allow orthotics to be fitted if needed. Cheaper boots may have glued down innersoles which can’t be removed.

  • The STUDS – the shape, size and position of the studs influence the grip of the boot. They help with traction and stability. It is essential to wear the correct type of stud for the surface being played on.

As with any shoe, foot shape is individual and will influence how well a football boot fits. It is advisable to try different brands to find one that best accommodates the shape of your foot.

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